How to be a Leader that People Want to Work For
More than 60 years ago, Theodore Levitt said that companies often fail because they focus so narrowly on their products and services that they neglect the bigger picture: what customers actually want. I tend to think that managers fail from a similar affliction. They focus so much on the work of the organization that they lose sight of what their employees actually want in a boss.
“Trust is the glue of life,” wrote Stephen Covey. It’s what drives our relationships and our ability to collaborate with others. And it’s an absolute necessity for leadership. We can’t successfully influence without the trust of our people. It just doesn’t happen.
Think of the people you consider to be leaders. What criteria comes to mind?
I doubt that it’s based on a title or position. It’s probably not tied to a specific skill or experience. And I’m guessing that the number of emails someone answers or meetings someone attends doesn’t have much of an impact.
The biggest question is one of trust. Do you trust this person? Do you trust her to help you succeed? Do you trust him to help you achieve something more than you could on your own?
“Earn trust, earn trust, earn trust. Then you can worry about the rest,” said Seth Godin on the first steps of leadership. The more that people trust you, the more they’ll respond in positive ways.
It’s basic human nature. People don’t make investments if they don’t expect a return. If we want people to invest their time and energy into their work, we need to build trust that they’ll get something out of it.
The good news is that building trust isn’t difficult. In my experience, it comes down to consistently doing four key things.
Get to Know Your People
I’m an engineer by trade. I’m not a natural people person. In fact, I don’t even like most people. I may be able to fool you in short blog posts, but if you knew me, you’d figure that out fairly quick.
But whether it comes naturally or not, it’s critical to get to know the people who report to you. You need to know what they like and who they are. You need to know what they’re…